Many social drinkers wonder if any amount of drinking before driving soon be outlawed. Will Oregon lower the legal DUI limit to .05?
The legal limit for DUI in Oregon is currently .08 BAC. From time to time, there is talk in other states around the country about lowering the legal limit for DUI down to .05 BAC or even .04 BAC. Commercial truck drivers in the United States are already prohibited from driving with a BAC of .04 greater. Also, several European countries have a presumptive limit of .05 BAC (most notably France and Germany). As of January 2017, there is the possibility that Utah may lower it’s legal limit to .05. But at the present time, it does not look likely that Oregon will be reducing the DUI legal limit to .05 or .04 for non-commercial drivers.
A couple other points should be noted about the .05 standard used in much of Europe. An average-bodied man having about three drinks in a social drinking setting could go over a .05 BAC. An average-bodied woman could easily reach .05 BAC with only two drinks. This is important to mention because we are not talking about a violent alcoholic drinking all night long on an empty stomach in order to obtain a .05 BAC before driving around recklessly. We are talking about “normal” people having a few drinks with friends while having dinner at a restaurant, and then later stopped and accused of being unable to drive safely.
Lastly, when people advocate for a lowing of the blood alcohol limits in Oregon or anywhere else in the country, it’s a safe bet they are not going to stop once they reach a given number (.05, .04, or even .02). Eventually, there will be a push for zero tolerance. That is: A .00 standard. There are some people who are simply against drinking and consumption of any alcohol. If drivers cannot have even a .01 BAC, it means they simply won’t be able to drink socially. If you cannot drink at any location other than your house, you cannot drink with friends or family in public– unless everyone who intends on drinking makes transportation arrangements. For many people, this is not practical or affordable.
It’s somewhat expected that a state such as Utah would attempt to lower their BAC limit to .05. Utah is predominantly Mormon, and Mormons claim publicly not to drink (although sales figures for Utah’s liquor stores clearly show many Mormons are consuming alcohol). Utah has had a long and complicated relationship with alcohol in general. However, a state like Oregon with its relatively liberal views, a booming wine industry, and a leader in micro-brewed craft beer, is not going to ban drinking anytime soon.